Graphic design

The Untold Story of Rave Era Membership Card Graphic Design

The “Second Summer of Love”—that late 1980s/early 1990s rave apotheosis characterized by scorching heat waves, outraged politicians, sweaty bobs, and the sound of acid house—is often presented as a sort of brief utopia, where football crazies traded hooliganism for hugs and disenfranchised youngsters suddenly had something to believe in.

This idea of ​​short-lived happy days without the drudgery and hierarchies of nine-to-five life may seem at odds with the concept of “members-only” parties, but nonetheless, for big-name clubs like the Haçienda, Labrynth , Ministry of Sound, Raindance, Shoom, Spectrum and World Dance, a strict door policy and its affiliate membership cards and VIP passes were all part of what made them the parties they were.

Although we’ve seen celebrations of graphic design for rave posters and flyers, so far these cards and passes have remained somewhat under the radar. All of that is about to change, however, with the release of a new book from The Graphic Design Archivist and AOF founder Rob Ford, titled Members Only.

The book features over 500 membership cards and passes (such as VIP and Access All Areas) from the late 80s and 90s, listed in alphabetical order. In doing so, it showcases their unique and often ambitious designs, especially considering the small designers to work with. Some of the events included in Members Only include Amnesia House, Biology, Dreamscape, Eclipse, Energy, Fantazia, Genesis, FAC51 Haçienda, Jungle Fever, Labrynth, Ministry of Sound, Rage, Raindance, Shoom, Spectrum, Sterns, Club UK and World Danse .

Many people who were instrumental in orchestrating these events, including designers, founders, DJs, MCs, PAs and ravers, contributed to the book through quotes and text: l he foreword is written by Ministry of Sound co-founder Justin Berkmann; while DJ and host Sarah HB wrote the intro.

Jenni Rampling, who ran Danny Rampling’s ex-husband’s club Shoom and led its rigorous door policy is interviewed in the book, and things are rounded out with an epilogue from acid house pioneer Anton Le-Pirate, known for his work with events like Energy, World Dance, Tribal Dance and Freedom To Party. There’s even a glimpse of who “invented” the glowsticks, detailing when, where, and how they appeared.

According to Ford, the book lays bare the world’s largest collection of membership cards and passes from acid house and rave eras, and he hopes it will serve as a “historical reference for future generations” of “one of the eras the most important for dance”. music”. It’s also a beautiful coffee table book: “For those who couldn’t be there at the time, this book gives us all a piece of rave history that we can hold in our hands. ” Fancy DJ written in the book. “Just like the flyers, little did we know, the membership cards and passes we got all those decades ago would end up having such a great story to tell.”

Mark Archer of electronic music duo Altern 8 adds: “Documenting acid house and the early rave scenes is extremely important for future generations to know what a historic moment this was in dance music and youth culture. This collection of membership cards and passes show off the incredible creativity and artwork that has gone into showing your pride in attending events.

Ford says “everything changed” for him when he went to his first rave, Amnesia House in Donnington. “That one night was going to change my outlook on life forever,” he says. “As we left our first all-night rave and found a pile of flyers on our car windshield, a new level of mind-influencing illustrations and words became part of our daily lives. Like many though, as the scene changed over the years and our lives evolved, I had a moment in my life when I decided to throw away the box that held all my glowing memories, and I’ve since regretted it. »

Members-only rave membership card book by Rob Ford

The only items he kept at the time were his Sterns, Orange and Berwick Manor membership cards; but as he approached his 50s he started collecting glowing flyers again – something he says really took off during the lockdown. It was by buying many memorabilia from work that he occasionally found membership cards and passes, and since then he has amassed around 750, most of which are listed in Members Only.

The book is designed by Jon Cefai of the design studio Collaborate Londonand the visual approach aimed to emphasize the “personal, passionate” side of these membership cards.

Members Only is released in September 2022 and is available for pre-order through publisher Velocity Press;